Covering the Land of Lincoln

Rockford sisters skate to nationals in return to hometown

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – It was a nostalgic return to Rockford for two sisters who grew up on the ice.

Charity Hendrickson and Evangeline Whitlock have skating in their blood. They started at the ages of three and five respectively and skated together in Rockford with the Ice Angels, a local synchronized skating team. This past week they returned to their hometown to compete at the 2023 Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships at the BMO Center.

Hendrickson is a coach for the St. Louis Synergy adult team and her older sister Evangeline is a skater on the same team. Charity put the team together two years ago when the Synergy didn’t have a synchronized skating team in that division.

“It was just really fun to be back where it all started and to just share that experience with my skaters,” says Hendrickson. “We had practice ice at Carlson (Ice Arena) the first day we were there and then in practice at Riverview, which is really like where I feel like we truly grew up.”

The two sisters say it was an emotional weekend. Their mom also made the trip from St. Louis to cheer on her daughters and their teammates but the one who influenced them to skate at a young age wasn’t in the stands: their dad who died in 2020 from COVID.

“He was the one that got us into this sport and he was always so supportive of all of our time and the sport and of the Rockford skating community,” says Whitlock.

They never imagined competing in this kind of environment though their hours of hard work on the ice paid off as they earned a spot at nationals next month in their division.

The sisters credit their success to everything they’ve learned skating at Rockford.

“We have really different lives so it’s nice to have this one thing that brings us together,” says Hendrickson. “It’s a fun dynamic getting to tell my older sister what to do.”

Prior to coaching the adult team, Hendrickson coached several St. Louis Synergy synchronized skating teams since 2004. Hendrickson’s first job as a synchronized skating coach was with Stellar Nova, the adult skating team in Rockford, which also included her dad.

Evangeline teaches at Webster University in St. Louis and when she’s not practicing with the St. Louis Synergy she practices herself several times a week.

“Figure skating for me, it’s like the one constant in my life,” says Whitlock. “To be able to work with a team of skaters and with your family, it’s like icing on top of everything.”

The 2023 US Synchronized Skating Championships will take place between Wednesday March 1 and Saturday March 4 at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Ill.

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